How to stay productive during a career slump
Life has a way of changing course every now and then and sometimes, unfortunately, that means losing a job. For someone like me (read: anxious through the roof), this “change” could be catastrophic. I mean, bills, too much down time, BILLS! It’s a super scary feeling that I liken to free-falling. Being a writer, slumps happen often. When it drags on longer than a few days, panic sets in. It’s just the nature of the biz and I’ll probably always have to grind to stay on top of my craft (and make some moo-lah), but that doesn’t make the slumps easier to swallow.
I’ve learned, though, that having time in between projects actually isn’t that bad. In fact, I’ve figured out how to utilize my time and mad skills so when the next job comes my way, I’m ready. Finding ways to stay productive really isn’t as hard as it sounds and the best part? It might increase your chances of success.
When a slump strikes, have no fear. With just a few simple tools, you’ll rock that slump like a boss!
Keep a solid routine
As nice as sleeping in and lounging around the house in your holey jam-jams sounds, DON’T. The days you’d normally work should be the same as that old routine. Wake up, shower, get dressed, dance around the house, etc. By going through these motions, you’ll be ready to tackle whatever the day throws at you. This is also a great opportunity to disconnect from the Internet (just as you might do at work) so the time spent feels more like a work day as opposed to a “free” day. Change the mindset, change your life.
Be an org junkie
Everything has a place. I used to think being so organized was something to scoff at, but I’ve learned that it actually helps productivity (there, I said it, Mom). When you know where things are, you can complete a task quickly and efficiently. Unless you really love treasure hunts, keep your work space clutter-free.
Take a step back
Sometimes it’s OK to take a step back to re-evaluate goals — in fact, it’s necessary. Even if being in a slump wasn’t your decision, use the time to think about the last job. What went wrong? What can you do to rock the next opportunity? When you wake up in the morning, jot down three daily goals you’d like to achieve. They could be as simple as making a phone call about a job or as lengthy as filling out applications online. You’re in charge here so what you do with your free time now could determine how long you’re in this slump and how much more awesome you’ll be when it’s over.
Polish your skills
Sign up for a free class, take a workshop, or find a mentor. All of these things are a step in the right direction. Fine tune your strengths, discover new passions, and use this time to work on you. This might even mean taking on smaller jobs to get by, trying things you never imagined, or putting yourself out there like you never have before. It’s hard work but trust me, when you’re at your best, it’ll be hard for the next career opp to pass you up.
Re-vamp your resumé
Did you know an employer only spends about 5-7 seconds looking at any one resumé before making a decision? Have you looked at your resume lately? Maybe it needs a little tweaking to showcase all the awesome you can provide. Make those employers need you. Like can’t-run-the-company-without-you. You’re amazing. Let the resumé show them that.
Sometimes it takes a trusted friend or colleague to brag about you or guide you down the right path. Is there anyone you can reach out to that might be able to offer some insight or have any leads on possible opportunities? It never hurts to ask and you never know, the stars might align where you never thought possible. And when you land your dream job, you can thank whoever helped you by paying it forward.
Sometimes a career slump is inevitable. But it’s what you do with the free time that determines where you’ll go next. By finding ways to get through the slump in a productive way, you’ll not only be better for it, but possibly even learn all the things that will score you that next job.
Now go. Be free (and productive).